May 21, 2007
Shimer College Joins Anti-Rankings Effort
Shimer College, the Great Books College of Chicago, has joined a national effort by the Education Conservancy to refuse to take part in college rankings surveys. Shimer President William Craig Rice added his name to a letter signed by over a dozen other liberal arts college presidents this week.
The practice of rankings, pioneered by U.S. News & World Report, has rankled many college leaders for years and, over time, caused them to distort the priorities of their institutions. The director of the Education Conservancy, Lloyd Thacker, now believes a collective effort can spur the creation of meaningful alternatives to the rankings. “When I’ve been asked by the rankings people to give my estimation of the quality of potentially hundreds of colleges, across a wide raft of categories, my nonsense detector has gone berserk. What can I really know? It’s time we insisted on intellectual and professional honesty,” Rice said.
Shimer plans to announce its participation in the boycott on its website and admission and promotional documents. Shimer’s Admission Director, Elaine Vincent, strongly supports the College’s distancing from the rankings industry.
“What Shimer does well—educating ourselves in on-going dialogue with the greatest minds of the past—can’t be captured in the U.S. News measurements,” added Rice. “The hope now is that the Education Conservancy’s boycott will lead to the creation of more useful ways for applicants and parents to understand what classically oriented liberal arts colleges have to offer.”
Two other Great Books college presidents have joined the Education Conservancy signers: Christopher B. Nelson, of St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD, and Michael P. Peters of St. John’s in Santa Fe, NM. Other presidents include Douglas C. Bennett of Earlham College, William G. Durden of Dickinson College; Ellen McCulloch-Lovell of Marlboro College; and Robert Weisbuch of Drew University.